DENVER (AP) — A Democratic gun-control package including ammunition limits and expanded background checks is moving quickly through the Colorado Legislature, where GOP attempts to stall a mammoth debate on the gun controls were quashed Thursday.
The Democratic House is poised to begin debate on the package Friday, with Speaker Mark Ferrandino warning members they could stay late into the night or even into Saturday morning to finish work on the gun measures. In addition to ammunition limits and expanded background checks, the gun-control package includes new fees for gun purchasers and a ban on concealed weapons on state college campuses.
One of the most divisive gun proposals — an idea from Senate President John Morse to defy federal law and hold gun manufacturers responsible for damage caused by assault weapons — had yet to be formally introduced Thursday.
But there was plenty to debate with four gun-control measures before lawmakers. Democrats control both chambers of the Legislature, but House Democrats had to overcome GOP maneuvering Thursday to keep the package moving.
Republicans tried to erect roadblocks in an early morning committee that is often a brief way-station for bills headed to the full chamber for debate. Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee asked technical questions for more than two hours, seeking to delay three of the four bills.
One Democrat was even called from the bedside of her ailing mother-in-law to steer through the gun-control package over GOP objections. Rep. Lois Court of Denver was excused to attend to her sick relative, but she was summoned to a House committee to keep her bill from being delayed. She’s sponsoring one of the bills — to restore user fees on gun purchasers seeking a state Instacheck background check — and GOP lawmakers said the bill should hold until she could return.
Even after Court’s return, Republicans chafed at Democratic effort to steer the bills forward.
“In this debate, we have been curtailed,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs.
Another Republican, Rep. Brian DelGrosso of Loveland, said Democrats were bent on ignoring GOP opposition to the gun controls.
“I think this is taking advantage of recent tragedies that are out there, going after an easy target of gun owners,” he said.
After that meeting, Gardner told the full House that Democrats are running it like a Soviet-era regime, cutting off dissent. Republicans in the chamber applauded before Ferrrandino gaveled them quiet.
Republicans’ gripes got a scornful shrug from many Democrats. Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, sponsor of a civil-unions measure blocked by the House last year when it was in Republican hands, tweeted sarcastically of Gardner’s speech, “He wasn’t protesting too much that day.”
The political jostling foretold a long and bitter full debate on the gun package Friday.
By Kristen Wyatt, AP Writer (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)